APART from being a fiercely competitive cricketer, Ronnie Franklin, who has died at the age of 74, was described as somebody who always played the game with a smile on his face.
The West Indian all-rounder, who lived in Moss Side, was well known locally being professional at Saddleworth & District League clubs Friarmere, Uppermill, Micklehurst, Stayley and Moorside.
Ronnie, who originated from Barbados, also starred for East Levenshulme and East Lancashire Paper Mill.
And after his playing days ended, he remained heavily involved in local cricket as an umpire and coaching the juniors at Swinton Moorside.
Trevor Harrison, a former Saddleworth League secretary, was an amateur player at Micklehurst when Ronnie was professional.
He said: “What I remember about Ronnie was that he was always a great competitor, whether you played with or against him.
“He always gave 100 per cent but there was never any nastiness. He was always laughing and smiling and was the heart and soul of the club.
“I can never remember him losing his temper and he never queried an umpire’s decision or abused them. He was a thoroughly nice guy and I was sad to hear about his death.”
Close friend Ronnie Cameron, who was a team-mate at East Levenshulme and Stayley, said: “I knew Ronnie for more than 30 years playing with and against him. He was one of our leaders.
“We kept in regular contact and we spoke three or four days before he died.”
Stayley club official Billy Bird also paid tribute to Ronnie who died in a Manchester hospital on Friday (April 10). He had been in poor health.
He said: “Ronnie was very witty and had a dry sense of humour.
“He was a good all-rounder and you could guarantee he would do something in matches, either with ball or bat.”
Stayley club president Steven Bird, who was an Under-16s player coached by Ronnie, described him as “a genuinely, nice guy who was sound as a pound”.
Julie Kippax, Micklehurst secretary, said: “Ronnie was our pro in 1986 and we kept in contact. He was a great ambassador for cricket and a great guy.
“He organised charity matches each year in which he assembled a West Indies X1.
“And when my dad (Philip Kippax) died, Ronnie was part of the guard of honour at his funeral.”
Julie had fond memories of West Indian curry night Ronnie organised and an amusing story from when Micklehurst played at Friarmere where ground improvements were taking place.
One of the players hid a breeze block in Ronnie’s kit bag as a joke. He thought the bag was unusually heavy and when he arrived home put it on a glass coffee table which promptly shattered because of the weight.